The following story was submitted by Dan Phelps of Nashoba Tech. Pictures were submitted by Derek Rochon, and the video of the ribbon cutting was taken by Andrew Sylvia.
Graduation day at Nashoba Valley Technical High School was a day of lasts — and firsts.
It was the last day of high school for 151 students, who got to be the first class to graduate on the school’s brand-new, all-purpose turf field. And it was a celebration of the last 45 years, as the Nashoba Tech district celebrated its birthday with a fond remembrance and a hopeful look ahead to its next 45 years.
But the centerpiece of the day Saturday, June 7, was the celebration of Nashoba Tech’s latest class of graduates.
The graduating seniors received high praise from all who knew them through their high-school years, as did the field, with its new, state-of-the art track — all part of a new and improved athletic complex at Nashoba Tech, a ribbon-cutting for which was held before the graduation exercises.
On hand to celebrate the graduates, as well as the ribbon-cutting, was State Treasurer Steve Grossman, who used his grandfather, Max, as an example of the perseverance he told the graduates they should aspire to, a man whose family immigrated from Russia to the United States in the early 1900s to escape persecution.
“After he finished sixth grade, Max’s mother said something to Max that none of your parents will ever say to you,” Grossman told the graduates. “She said, ‘Max, you have to go to work.’”
Grossman’s grandfather went to work for a paper company and soon owned his own business, which would become the paper supplier known as Massachusetts Envelope Company.
He urged the graduates to dedicate themselves to the three “building blocks” of a successful life — family, education and community — and to pursue volunteerism as a way to add value to their lives.
Quoting President Woodrow Wilson, Grossman said, “Nothing but what you volunteer has the essence of life, the springs of pleasure in it. These are the things you do because you want to do them, the things your spirit has chosen for its satisfaction.”
Class Salutatorian Shannon Pecora of Westford told her classmates, “In one word, high school has been amazing. We’ve learned and accomplished so many awesome things and made extraordinary friends. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not ready to say goodbye to all my teachers and friends and move on to the next stage of my life. However, I will be prepared for what lies ahead.”
While it may be difficult to leave the world of high school behind, Shannon said her four years at Nashoba Tech “taught me that you can do anything you put your mind to, and you can accomplish incredible things with hard work, dedication and perseverance.”
“Moving forward in our lives, we will all have obstacles to face at one time or another,” she added. “Some may have obstacles that seem impossible to overcome, but no matter what happens, just remember that obstacles are nothing to us except things to step down off of an keep going.
“People always say that the best years of your life are when you are in high school, and while high school may be some of the best years of our lives, I believe that the best is yet to come.”
Class President Manuela Romano of Westford transferred to Nashoba Tech halfway through her sophomore year, “scared, nervous, yet very excited to begin a new chapter in my life.”
It took her no time to get acclimated — and become popular enough to be elected class president.
“Over the past four years — or, in my case, two and a half — we haven’t just built a community, we have created a family,” Manuela said, overcome with emotion several times during her speech. “We have learned that nothing can stop us and that we can be whatever we want to be.
“From the moment I stepped foot into this school, I knew the new chapter in my life would start with Cosmetology,” she added. “I am so thankful for my technical instructors, who knew my dreams and pushed me to work hard and excel so that my dreams could and would come true.
“We may be going our separate ways, wherever that may be, but we will always be a family — living, laughing and loving together.
Nashoba Tech welcomed its first students in September 1969 after legislation six years earlier opened the door for the creation of regional vocational-technical school districts throughout Massachusetts.
The school invited alumni from the past 45 years to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony before the graduation exercises. All who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony and graduation received a 45th anniversary commemorative booklet detailing the history of the school and highlighting several of its alumni and longtime employees who have witnessed the changes over the past four and a half decades.